Skip to main content

Full text of "That all may worship : an interfaith welcome to persons with disabilities"

See other formats

An Interfaith Welcome 

To People With 





SMsr t0 peop,e W1 ' th 

Copy 1 

fa y 

P^ 1 1, r >3 p-j-k '^ 




An Interfaith Welcome 

To People With 


National Organization on Disability ♦ 910 16th Street, N.W., Suite 600 ♦ Washington, DC 20006 

Copyright © 1992 by the 

National Organization on Disability 

All Rights Reserved 

Printed in the United States of America 

Ginny Thomburgh 


Ann Rose Davie 

Ginny Thomburgh 

Primary Photographer: 
Michael Yeager 

Other Photographers: 
AP/Wide World Photos (Harold Wilke photo) 
© Terry Clark (Fred Rogers photo) 
© 1992 Randy Duchaine (closing photo) 


he Rev. Harold H. Wilke is pastor, 
teacher, writer and advocate for 
people with physical, sensory and 
mental disabilities throughout the 
world. By his enthusiasm, self- 
acceptance, grit and twinkle, he 
provides an unforgettable role 
model. He challenges all, with and 
without disabilities, to heal the 
divisions among God's children. 
He calls for religious communities 
to proclaim that people with dis- 
abilities are welcome and needed 
in the House of God. 

Dedication to Harold H. Wilke 

Dr. Wilke has had a distin- 
guished career in four areas of 
service: the Church, rehabilitation medicine, teaching 
and government. Ordained over fifty years ago as a 
minister of the United Church of Christ, Dr. Wilke 
serves on the faculty at Union Theological Seminary 
in New York and has lectured at many other seminar- 
ies. He currently directs the Healing Community, 
which promotes awareness about access to a life of 
faith. He has published numerous books and articles, 
including Creating the Caring Congregation, a 
widely read book for congregations moving to 
integrate people with disabilities into the faith 

Harold Wilke is a founding director of the 
National Organization on Disability (N.O.D.). He has 
inspired the authors of this Handbook and countless 
others to tear down the barriers that keep people 
from achieving their full potential. 

Dr. Wilke and his wife Peg, the parents of five 
adult sons, live in Claremont, California. 

The Rev. Harold Wilke, without 
arms, accepts with his foot a 
pen from President George Bush 
following the 1990 bill signing 
ceremony for the Americans 
with Disabilities Act (ADA) 
on the south lawn of the 
White House. 



That All May Worship 

National Organization on Disability 

he National Organization on 
Disability (N.O.D.) promotes the 
acceptance and full participation 
in all aspects of life, of America's 
forty-three million men, women 
and children with physical, sens- 
ory or mental disabilities. Founded 
in 1982, N.O.D. is the only nation- 
al disability organization con- 
cerned with all disabilities, all age 
groups and all disability issues. 

N.O.D. has a network of 3,000 
communities nationwide. It assists 
these Community Partners and 
other national associations to 
promote, through voluntary 
action, expanded opportunities 
for people with disabilities in the 
towns, cities and counties across 

The N.O.D. Religion and 
Disability Program is an interfaith 
effort urging local congregations, 
national denominational groups 
and seminaries to remove the 
obstacles to worship that alienate 
people with disabilities. Materials 
available through the program 
help religious communities 
identify and remove architectural, 
communications and attitudinal 

Permission is granted to use, 
extract or copy material from this 
Handbook as long as That All 
May Worship and N.O.D. are 
credited. Comments and requests 
for further information are wel- 
come. Please call or write the 
Religion and Disability Program 

To order That All May Worship, 

please contact: 

National Organization 

on Disability 
Religion and Disability Program 
910 16th Street, N.W., Suite 600 
Washington, DC 20006 

(202) 293-5960 
(202) 293-5968 TDD 
(202) 293-7999 FAX 
(800) 248-ABLE (2253) 

Copies of That All May 

Worship are available on tape for 
those with visual impairments. 
Please contact N.O.D. 

That All May Worship 

Dedication to Harold H. Wilke iii 




National Organization on Disability (.IN.U.DJ 




Interfaith Approach 


Affirmation of Faith 


Attitudes about Disability in the 

Religious Community 


Getting Underway 


How Shall We Begin? 


Affirming Language 


Task Force on Disability Issues 


Pivotal Role of the Religious Leader 


Interfaith Litany for Wholeness 


Congregational Hospitality 


Hospitable Weekly Services 


Training for Ushers 


Transportation: Getting to the House of God 


Religious Education 


Members at Home 


Welcoming People With Disabilities 


General Introduction 


Mobility Impairment 


Blind or Visual Impairment 


Deaf or Hard of Hearing 


Mental Illness 


Developmental Disability 


Learning Disability 


Chronic Illness 


Care for Caregivers 


Who Are the Caregivers? 


Proclaim Progress! 


"It's You I Like!" Fred Rogers 




Audit of Barriers: Attitudes, 

Communications and Architecture 


Architectural Design for an 

Accessible Sanctuary 


Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 







he purpose of the Handbook, That 
All May Worship, is to assist 
congregations, denominational 
groups and seminaries to welcome 
people with disabilities into all 
aspects of worship and religious 
life. The Handbook is interfaith in 
scope and concerns people with all 
types of disabling conditions. That 
All May Worship is a "coaching 
manual" written to encourage, 
prod and prayerfully push reli- 
gious leaders and their congrega- 
tions to change the ways people 
with disabilities are, or are not, 
included in their congregations. 



Among Those Who Will Find 
the Handbook Useful 

♦ People with any type or 
combination of disabilities: 
long-term or temporary; physical, 
sensory or mental; visible or 

♦ Local congregations 

♦ Seminaries, religious colleges 
and universities, denominational 

♦ Christians, Jews, Muslims and 
all who respond to God's love 
through inclusive worship and 
serving others 

Why Religious Congregations Among the 
Need Coaching millions of 
with disabilities, many have 
spiritual needs that are not being 

Shut Out 
Kept Out 
Left Out 
Put Out 
Lost Out 

met. They cannot even get into the 
church, synagogue, meetinghouse, 
mosque or temple of their choice. 
Or, when they do get in. they may 
not be able to negotiate stairs or 
narrow doorways. Some find print 
too small to read, sound systems 
that are inadequate, bathrooms 
they cannot use or an atmosphere 
that is hostile. 

Historically, people with 
disabilities have been "cared for" 
at home or in institutions, often in 
a paternalistic way. Unconsciously 
or consciously, when architectural 
or program planning has been 
undertaken, they have been 
shut out of the life of the faith 

Times are changing! There are, 
in fact, lay and religious leaders, 
with or without disabilities, who 
are creating inclusive religious 
communities across America. 
Some take forthright measures 
and thoughtfully improve their 
buildings and programs. In so 
doing, many people come to 
recognize the gifts which people 
with disabilities bring to the 

That All May Worship 

An Interraitn Appro acn 

any people of faith, from every 
religious persuasion, are finding 
the need to examine disability in 
light of their understanding of 
God as Creator and Sustainer of 
life. The writers, editors and 
supporters of That All May 
Worship believe that God does 
not send disability. Rather, God is 
with us in the adversities of life, 
just as God is with us in the joys 
and triumphs of life. God loves us 
with an everlasting love and is 
aware of our needs, fears, anxieties 
and hopes. 

God's Spirit Motivates 

It is God's spirit that moves us 
to pray, especially in times of pain, 
sorrow and loneliness. God's spirit 
removes the attitudes that isolate 
people. And, God's spirit moti- 
vates a congregation to be affirm- 
ing, inclusive and welcoming. 

This Handbook is a resource for 
all. Because words so often add to 
the barriers among people, consid- 
erable thought has been given to 
selecting helpful terms. For 
example, "congregation" refers to 
the people of any worshiping 
community. In the same way, 
"religious leader" refers to a 

pastor, priest, rabbi, reader, 
minister or lay leader who serves 
on a vestry, session, board of 
readers, committee or council. 

For those congregations who 
have already begun to welcome 
people with disabilities, our hope 
is that this Handbook will affirm 
progress and add new ideas. For 
those who, in the past, have felt 
overwhelmed by the task, may the 
Handbook build the confidence 
needed to transform their 
congregations into communities 

ALL may praise, Qod, 

ALL may grow, 

ALL may serve, 

ALL may be served, and 

ALL may worship. 

That All May Worship 


"for my House shall be a house 
of -prayer for all people, * 

— Isaiah 56:5 

s God's creations, we are fashioned uniquely. 

Each endowed with individuality of body, mind and spirit 

To worship freely the One who has given us life. 

Each of us has abilities; each seeks fulfillment and wholeness. 

Each of us has disabilities; each knows isolation and incompleteness. 

Seeking shelter from the vulnerability we all share, 
Claiming our promised place in God's Household of Faith, 
We are transformed by invitation, affirmation and love. 

In grateful response, we... 

Worship and serve God, the source of hope and joy; 
Celebrate and serve one another, rejoicing in our diversity; 
Transform and serve the world, until we become a Community 
which reflects God's Oneness and Peace. 

Let the House of God be open to all who would enter and worship. 

That All May Worship 

Attitudes about Disability 

in tbe Religious Community 

TLis We Beli 


If there are barriers of attitude, 
communication or architecture for 
ANYONE, the foundation of the 
House of 
God is 
for ALL. 
♦ Every person is created by 
God, each is loved by God, and 
none should be diminished by 
another, even by unintentional 
actions or words. 

♦ God may see "wholeness of 
spirit" where our imperfect vision 
may see only "brokenness of body 
or mind." 

♦ Rather than being a burden, 
shared need and vulnerability 
should be recognized as the "glue" 
of a supportive community. 

Thai All May Worship 

♦ Under distracting surface 
traits, there is the essential person 
created by God. 

♦ Fortunately, God does not 
use intelligence or "rate of 
growth" to measure faith. God 
knows our abilities and our 
potential. God longs for us to 
respond lovingly with all that we 
are, and to be all that we can be. 

♦ God frequently works 
through the unexpected! We need 
to listen, persevere in spite of 
inconvenience and remain open 
to creative solutions and 

This We Kn 

. Accidents, diseases 
OW! and birth conditions 
occur that demand 
dramatic and taxing changes. 
Families experience intense 
disappointment, loss, financial 
burdens and anger. Fortunately, 
for some families the resulting 
responsibilities bring out new 
talent, compassion and vision. 
Never forget: A disabling condi- 
tion may be one automobile ride, 
one unsteady stepladder, one 
overheated stove, one high fever 
or one stroke away. If we don't 
have limiting conditions now, we 
surely may before we die. 

Most people are uncomfortable 
with people who look and act 
"different." As a T j_' TZ 1 Til 

result, many people J— i6l S JPciCC It! 

with disabilities are 

often ignored, isolated or rejected. 

When the response grows out 
of pity, the person with the 
disability feels patronized and 

What do you say when you meet 
a person with a disability? 

!Hozu about "Jidlo"? 

diminished and does not necessar- 
ily react with gratitude. How 
much better to regard someone 
primarily as a person with abili- 
ties, and only secondarily as 
someone who may need assistance 
to use those abilities. 

That All May Worship 

<( The eternal Qodis your dwelling 

place; and underneath are the 

everlasting arms, ' 

— Deuteronomy 33:27 

Thai All Ma\ \\ orship 

We Have Naysayers 
Among Us! 

Some say: 

"Of course, we'd be glad to 
have 'the disabled' come to wor- 
ship, but we don't seem to have 
any of 'them.' If they are not 
coming, they must not want to 
come.Where are these types 

Others say: 

"Wait a minute ! I tried being 
nice to those folks. They have an 
attitude! They don't want my 
help. They're downright rude 
sometimes, and some are aggres- 
sively unpleasant to be around. 
Why invite trouble?" 

To confront the naysayers, 
draw upon faith, knowledge of 
people and common sense. 

Reply by saying: 

"Think about what may 
have happened in the past to 
the person with a disability 
who is trying to worship. 
Perhaps he or she was treated 
thoughtlessly by a religious 
leader or by someone with 
good intentions but little 
sensitivity. Bitter feelings may 
last a long time. Guilt and confu- 
sion, anger and disappointment 
are often covered by pretending 
not to care. We all do it!" 

Finally, remind the 
naysayers that: 

"It's no more accurate to 
generalize about the attitudes of 
people with disabilities from 
having met one or two, than it is 
to generalize about people 
without disabilities, having met 
one or two." 


"Think before you speak," the old 
adage goes. But what if our think- 
ing is unexamined or _ _ ^-i m -i 
stereotypical? Everyone, Keep I hfn l?TTK 
at some time in life, has 
attitudinal disabilities which affect 
relationships, including: 

♦ apprehension 

♦ insensitivity 

♦ awkwardness 

♦ self-centeredness 

♦ embarrassment 

♦ paternalism 

Fortunately, many have learned 
by effort, luck and experience that 
people with disabilities are more 
like us than unlike us. We all have 
similar needs, wants and fears. 
We share our humanity. Some- 
times we can compensate for 
problems by ourselves; other times 
we need family and community 
support to be ourselves. 

Many have [earned that. 

A person who hears less may see more. 
One who sees less may perceive more. 
One who speaks slowly may have more to say. 
A person who moves with difficulty may have a 
clearer sense of direction. 


That All May Worship 

Getting Underway 

How Snail ^e Be^in? 

Many of us have disabilities 
which are visible. Others have 
disabilities which are invisible. 
Some disabilities are physical or 
sensory, and others are intellectual 
or psychological. Some disabilities 
are temporary, although severely 
limiting while present. Others are 
permanent, but need not be fully 

Just as every family has at least 
one person who requires extra 
support and understanding, so 
too, in every congregation there 
are already people who have been 

accommodated. Adjustments have 
been made for Mrs. Green, who 
has cataracts; for Mr. Rosenfeld, 
who has a heart condition; or for 
the Smiths, whose son was in a 
serious diving accident. 

This Is a Great Start! 

Next look 
around for 
other mem- 
bers who 

may have been overlooked. They 
may be attempting to hide their 
problems by infrequent attendance 
or by quietly enduring discomfort. 
Be assured that they are paying a 
great price, psychologically, and 
perhaps spiritually. 

May all that 
we do be 
in the sight 
of God. 


People throughout the country 
are becoming aware that to live 
with a disability should mean to 
live in a supportive community, 
not hidden away in painful isola- 
tion. Because of this, they are also 
changing their language to show 
respect for persons with disabili- 
ties rather than labeling them like 
objects. Appropriate language and 
terminology is in evolution. 

"People-first Language" refers 
to the principle that the person is 
primary, the disability secondary. 
Language should affirm rather 
than diminish. Listen to the 
affirmation in this announcement: 
"Worshipers with disabilities may 
request assistive devices," rather 


That All May Worship 

than, "Disabled worshipers may 
request assistive devices." 

Note, too, that a person "uses a 
wheelchair" just as another person 
"uses" legs. The person is not 
"wheelchair bound" nor "confined 
to a wheelchair." 

The following defined words 
are frequently misused: 

Disability: A permanent phys- 
ical, sensory or intellectual impair- 
ment that substantially limits one 
or more of a person's major life 
activities, including reading, writ- 
ing and other aspects of education; 
holding a job; and managing various 
essential functions of life such as 
dressing, bathing and eating. 

Handicap: A barrier society 
places on the person with a 

People-first Language 

Thus, one could say, "The stairs 
in that building will be a handicap 
for John, who uses a wheelchair," 
but not, "John is handicapped and 
can't use the stairs." 

Certain words and phrases are 
no longer acceptable. Among these 
are "crippled," "crazy," "retard," 
"deaf and dumb," "wheelchair 
bound," "homebound," "shut-ins," 
"victim," "invalid" and any catego- 
rization beginning with the word 
"the," such as "the disabled," "the 
blind," "the deaf or "the mentally 

NOTE: People with disabilities 
should acknowledge sincere 
efforts to change old language 
habits. "Politically correct" disabil- 
ity language is often presented in 
an overly oppressive way. As a 
result, people without disabilities, 
but with good intentions, may 
decide that trying to affirm and 
include people with disabilities 
isn't worth the effort. 

Task Force on 
Disability Issues 

For any congregation, denomi- 
national group, religious college 
or seminary to make long-lasting, 
appropriate changes, a planning 
structure will be needed. Enlist a 
group of committed people, 
including those with disabilities, 
and create a Task Force on 
Disability Issues. 

Select Participants 

♦ Give the Task Force status by 
asking the pastor, rabbi or priest 
to sign a letter inviting members 
to serve. 

♦ Get the backing of the con- 
gregational governing board. 

♦ Invite, as Task Force mem- 
bers, people who have: 

• various types of disabilities 

• a family member with a 

• responsibility to plan and 
lead worship 

• influence in making policy 

• responsibility for manag- 
ing the building 

• skills in carpentry, con- 
tracting or architecture 

• responsibility for educa- 
tional curricula, especially 
special education skills 

• experience in fundraising 

• responsibility for commu- 
nity outreach 

• skills in writing and 

Overview of Task Force 

Each meeting and activity 
planned by the Task Force will 
broaden the understanding of the 
participants who influence others 
in the congregation. Task Force 
members will become bolder 
about taking action. After a time, 
additional people with disabilities 
will become known to the 
Task Force. 

Possible Agenda Items 
for the First Task Force 

♦ Divide into small subgroups 
so individuals have ample oppor- 
tunity to exchange ideas. 

♦ Discuss experiences within 
the congregation that may be 
creating barriers for people with 
disabilities and for their families. 


Thai All May Worship 

♦ Take time to examine the 
moral dilemma present when a 
congregation excludes or does not 
seek out those with disabilities. 
Reflect on such questions as 
"What is it to be human?" 
"What is God's role in suffering?" 
"What binds people together in 

"51 ramp is not enough, " 

—Rev. Harold Wilke 

♦ Make lists of access problems 
encountered by someone with 
physical or sensor}- disabilities 
who is trying to enter or use 

the building. 

Additional Agenda Items 
for the Task Force 

♦ Consider policies and prac- 
tices which could be viewed as 
discouraging to someone with a 
disability. What about worship, 
social and educational activities, 
and outreach? 

♦ Divide the list of barriers and 
problems by type. 

♦ Refer recommendations to the 
appropriate congregational author- 
ity such as the session, council, 
vestry, deacons, trustees or build- 
ing committee. 

♦ Strategize about fundraising. 
Ideas should range from urging 
the high school youth group to 
sponsor a needed program, to 
inviting families to contribute 
money for a ramp or enhanced 
sound system in honor or in 
memory of a family member. 

Long-range Considerations 
for the Task Force 

The Task Force will need both 
short-term and long-range strate- 
gies. Making changes at one point 
in time does not necessarily 
answer the need forever. Devices 
get broken, well-intended adjust- 
ments may prove to be inadequate, 
and new requests are made that 
are valid. The Task Force can be 
an informed and pro-active 
support group, known in the 
congregation for its ability to make 
changes on behalf of children and 
adults with disabilities. Its very 
presence will serve to assure 
members and visitors who seek an 
accepting atmosphere for worship, 
education and service. 

Pivotal Role or the 
Religious Leader 

Religious leaders have a unique 
opportunity to be role models 
when they demonstrate a vibrant 
interest in the lives of children and 
adults with disabilities. Even if 
they have not yet been personally 
touched by disability, they can 
lead their congregations into new 
ways of thinking and acting. 
Consider these possibilities: 

♦ Learn more about the various 
conditions and illnesses present 
among members. Consider what 
special pastoral care may be 
needed and train members of the 
congregation to assist in offering 
spiritual, moral and physical 

♦ Use affirming language 
when referring to persons with 

♦ Urge the hiring of qualified 
people with disabilities to 

be religious leaders, staff and 


That All May Worship 

♦ Reveal, in appropriate set- 
tings, personal experiences with 
illness or disability-related 
crises which have affected faith 

♦ Encourage religious educators 
to seek out curricula for all ages, 
with thoughtful content and 
multi-sensory teaching strategies. 

♦ Provide a training session for 
ushers since they are usually the 
first people to greet and welcome a 
newcomer. Ask people with 
disabilities to assist in the training! 

♦ Be attentive, in difficult fiscal 
periods, to the tendency of com- 
mittees to let access problems slip 
down on committee agendas. 
Encourage creative fundraising 
and become known as an advocate 
for individuals with disabilities in 
the congregation. 

♦ Remind those who nominate 
and appoint congregational leaders 
to include members who happen 
to have disabilities. 

♦ If lay readers usually partici- 
pate in worship services, insure 
that members with disabilities are 
also invited. Arrange participation 
in ways that de-emphasize differ- 
ences from other worship leaders. 
See that microphones are adjusted, 
and that the place of reading is 

♦ As a counselor, be available to 
people with disabilities and their 
family members. Listen for their 
strengths and their valuable 
perspectives on congregational 
life. Help them find their place of 

♦ Plan liturgies, sermons and 
stories for children which affirm 
that each person is created by 
God, loved by God and accepted, 
as is, by God! 

♦ Use the "Interfaith Litany for 
Wholeness," which has been well 
received by many congregations. 
(Please see page 14.) 

Sister Rita Baum tells of God's 
love through sign language. 

!An InterfaitH Litany for Wfioteness 

Leader: Let us pray for all God's people. 

For people who are blind and cannot see, and for those who can see but 
are blind to people around them, 

Response: Lord, in your mercy help us touch each other. 

Leader: For people who move slowly because of accident, illness or 
disability, and for those who move too fast to be aware of the world in 
which they live, 

Response: Lord, in your mercy help us work together. 

Leader: For people who are deaf and cannot hear, and for those who can 
hear but who ignore the cries of others. 

Response: Lord, in your mercy help us respond to each other. 

Leader: For people who learn slowly, for people who learn in different 
ways, and for people who leam quickly and easily but often choose 

Response: Lord, in your mercy help us grow in your wisdom. 

Leader: For people who have chronic illnesses for which there is no 
known cure or relief, and for people who live in unholy fear of develop- 
ing a chronic illness, 

Response: Lord, in your mercy help us and heal us. 

Leader: For families, friends and caregivers who serve people with 
disabilities, and for those who feel awkward in their presence, 

Response: Lord, in your mercy help us see each other with 
your eyes. 

Leader: For people who think they are worthless and beyond your love, 
and for people who think they don't need your love, 

Response: Lord, in your mercy help us accept your love. 

Leader: For people who feel isolated by their disabilities, and for people 
who contribute to that sense of isolation, 

Response: Lord, in your mercy change our lives. 

Leader: For all the people in your creation, that we may learn to respect 
each other and leam how to live together in your peace, 

Response: Lord, in your mercy bind us together. 

All: AMEN 

Written by: The Rev. Kate Chipps 
Adapted by: Ginny Thomburgh 


That All May Worship 

Congregational Hospitality 

Everyone, with or without 
disability, should be welcomed 
into the House of God with 
courtesy and thoughtfulness. 
By anticipating the particular 
needs of those with disabilities, 
the atmosphere and conveniences 
are frequently improved for all. 
Even subtle changes make a 
positive difference. 

Hospitable Weekly Services 

♦ Print regular announcements 
of the following type, describing 
the accommodations that are 

The congregation has a 
variety of resources avail- 
able. These include large- 
print hymnals and 
prayerbooks, large-print 
Bibles, large-print and 
brailled bulletins and audio 
loops. Please speak to an 
usher if you need some 

Everyone is welcome to 
attend all congregational 
activities and to participate 
in our religious education 
programs. Audio tapes of 
previous services are also 
available. If anyone has 
questions or needs assis- 
tance, please call the office. 

♦ Choose bulletin language 
with sensitivity. For example, 
remember the feelings of those 
with limited mobility and allow 
options. Use "Standing or Seated" 
or "Kneeling or Seated" instead of 
phrases like "Congregation 
Stands"or "Congregation Kneels." 

♦ Consider planning a special 
Sabbath/Sunday service with 
disability as the focal theme of 
worship. Ask members with a 
range of disabilities to take leader- 
ship roles, appropriately demon- 
strating their various abilities. 

Such a service celebrates 
differences, encourages openness 
and reduces misunderstanding. 
However, this once-a-year event 
should not substitute for year-long 
mainstreaming. People with 
disabilities should be fully 
involved in every aspect of 
congregational life. 

Thai All May Worship 


Ushers are usually the first sign 
of hospitality in the congregation. 
Because they are so visible, their 
gracious welcome to people with 
disabilities puts everyone at ease. 

Usher training should be 
carefully planned, in consultation 
with people with disabilities. A 
- -. motivating part 

ior Usners of this trainin § is 

to ask them and 
their companions to share rel- 
evant, personal stories of what 
causes people to feel welcome, 
or not welcome, as they enter the 
House of God for worship and 

Ushers Extend 
Congregational Hospitality: 

♦ Ask about preferred location 
for seating. 

♦ Seat a new person, especially 
one with a disability who arrives 
without a companion, with 
members who have so agreed 
ahead of time. 

♦ Offer audio loops, large-print 
or brailled bulletins, and large- 
print prayerbooks and hymnals. 

♦ Keep mechanical devices in 
good repair by asking users to 
report on their effectiveness. 

♦ Station someone near heavy 
swinging doors to assist those with 
mobility impairments. 


ransporfcation: Getting 
to the House or God 

portation is 
a major 
barrier for 
someone with mobility or sight 
impairment. By identifying trans- 
portation as an essential service, a 
concerned congregation can seek 
out and assist members and 
visitors who have: 

♦ Life-long or temporary 

♦ Hidden illnesses or 
age-related disabilities 

♦ Budget limitations and, 
thus, no car. 

To provide personal choice and 
control, when possible, give the 
person with a disability a list of 
willing drivers. She or he ma} 7 then 
make the transportation arrange- 
ments. Depending on the number 
of volunteers and financial 
resources, the transportation 
program can: 

♦ Provide a van with a wheel- 
chair lift and a pool of dedicated 

♦ Arrange neighborhood 
carpools serving the congregation, 
and nearby congregations if 
worship times coincide. 

♦ Prearrange assistance for the 
person with disability who calls 
ahead and asks to be met at 

the car. 

That All May Worship 



♦ Arrange reserved parking 
places near the ramped entrances 
for people with mobility impair- 
ments. Make sure that spaces have 
extra room for easy and safe 

♦ Budget for accessible taxi 

♦ Station someone near the 
door to assist persons in and out 
of cars. 

♦ Recognize and thank, pub- 
licly, those who regularly drive 
others to the church or synagogue. 

Religious education is the way a 
faith tradition is passed down from 
-. generation to 

Education generation. It 
should be 
taught by people who are trained 
and committed, using appropriate 
materials and curricula. Integrat- 
ing children and adults with 
disabilities into the congregation's 
regular education program is 

usually preferable. In some in- 
stances, however, special educa- 
tion teachers may be found to lead 
a self-contained class or to assist a 
student with disability within a 
mainstream class. 

Remember that community is 
built through shared experiences, 
not isolated ones. Thus, it is vitally 
important to have worship, 
education and social activities 
that include everyone, young and 
old, those with and without 

!A Teaching Reminder 


Religion Teachers in Churches, Synagogues and Temples 


A Child with a Disability 

♦ Please don't worry about me. I'm a lot tougher than you think. 

♦ Most of my needs are just like those of other children even though my physical 
or mental development is different. 

♦ Give me what you naturally give to all the children: your love, your praise, your 
acceptance and, especially, your faith. 

♦ Help me to have a successful experience in your class. If you thoughtfully plan a 
variety of activities, I will always find at least one thing I can do well. 

♦ Encourage me to do things for myself, even if it takes me a long time. 

♦ Try to maintain a regular routine so I will know what to expect. 

♦ Like other children, I remember instructions best if they are short and clear. 

♦ Let me work out my own relationships with the boys and girls in the class. 

♦ Give me opportunities to help others. 

Written by: Carole Carlson 
Adapted by: Ginny Thornburgh 

Be sure that members consid- 
ered to be "shut-ins" have not, in 
fact, been "shut-out" ! Many who 
cannot easily attend services long 
1 to participate in 

Members at Home meaningful 

activities. It it is 
clear that someone is forced to be 
at home, a special outreach, 
beyond an occasional pastoral 
visit, can be extended by lay 

♦ Offer a communion service 
with several people in attendance, 
at the home on a regular basis. 

♦ Offer the opportunity to say 
Kaddish at home following the 
death of a loved one. 

♦ Deliver audio or video tapes 
of services. 

♦ Think of ways a person at 
home might assist in the work of 

the congregation. Examples 

• Using computer skills 

• Making telephone calls 

• Writing for the newsletter 

♦ Invite a person who must stay 
home to be on a committee, in a 
study group or in a prayer group. 
Hold the meeting at that person's 

♦ Investigate conference call 
and speakerphone devices as ways 
of including someone in meetings 
or worship services, while remain- 
ing at home. 

♦ If the congregation provides 
sponsors for new members, offer 
the responsibility to persons who 
have been longtime members but 
now spend most of their time at 


That All May Worship 

Welcoming People 

With Disabilities 

General Introduction 

There are forty-three million 
people with disabilities in 
America. They differ in strengths 
and weaknesses, abilities and 
needs, as much as individuals in 
any group differ. The House of 
God should welcome every one of 

Review, with welcome in mind, 
the personal and congregational 
actions offered below. 

Improving Personal 

♦ Talk directly to the person 
with a disability, not to the nearby 
family member, companion or 

♦ Offer assistance but do not 
impose. Allow a person to retain 
as much control as possible, doing 
things for himself or herself, even 
if it takes longer. 

♦ Ask the person with the 
disability about the best way to be 
of assistance. Personal experience 
makes him or her the expert. 

♦ Do not pretend to understand 
if the speech or ideas of the person 
are unclear. Request, politely of 
course, that the person clarify. 
Continue speaking to the person 
rather than asking a companion to 
answer for him or her. 

♦ Work to control reactions of 
personal discomfort when some- 
one behaves in an unexpected way 
or looks somewhat different. Try 
to see the wholeness of spirit 
underneath and overcome the 
tendency to turn away or ignore 
the person with the disability. 

Widening Congregational 

♦ Use multi-sensory approaches 
to involve all listeners when 
preaching, teaching or making 
presentations. Everyone will 

♦ Encourage people with 
disabilities to participate in the 
full range of congregational 

♦ Follow announcements of 
general invitation with personal 
invitations and arrangements for 
transportation. Persons with 
disabilities may not really believe 
the invitation is "for them" if they 
have had disappointing or isolat- 
ing experiences in the past. 

♦ Nominate people with needed 
skills to be contributors and 
leaders in positions of responsi- 
bility. Never decide for someone 
with a disability that getting to 
meetings or doing the work is "too 
hard." Invite first, then leave it up 
to them. 


Hut All M.i\ Worship 

♦ Be sure that people with 
disabilities are asked to plan and 
review progress on both program- 
matic and architectural changes. 

♦ Provide notetakers for 

♦ Develop transportation to 
religious and social activities for 
people with a wide variety of 

♦ Develop a job placement 
program and support group for 
those in the congregation who are 
out of work. Two-thirds of people 
with disabilities, who are of 
working age and want to work, are 
unemployed, and many who work 
are underemployed. When the 
congregation provides affirming 
support, it empowers the person's 
job search. 

♦ Be aware that accommoda- 
tions for one group can cause 
difficulty for another. For ex- 
ample, discuss the proposed 
placement of ramps and curb cuts 
with members who have impaired 
sight and could trip on edges and 

♦ Support the families of those 
with disabilities for they experi- 
ence stress and isolation. (Please 
see the section, Care for 
Caregivers, beginning on page 35.) 

♦ Locate and support local 
chapters of organizations which 
offer services to people with 
disabilities and their families. Such 
services may include recreation, 
transportation, respite care, 
advocacy, financial assistance and 
health care. 

^vifelcoming a 




Mobility impairments are the 
most visible of all disabilities. Of 
the 43 million Americans esti- 
mated to have disabilities, 1.4 
million are wheelchair users. 
There are also millions of others 
who use walkers, canes, braces or 
crutches. Causes of physical 
disability range from accidents to 
genetic conditions or diseases. 
Aging increases the chance of 
broken bones and deteriorating 

Fortunately, most congrega- 
tions are already thinking about 
ramps, curbcuts and designated 
parking arrangements. These 
adaptations are also useful to 
movers of heavy equipment, 
shoppers with bundles and 
pushers of baby strollers. 

Attitudes can keep people out 
as easily as architectural barriers. 
Surprisingly, there are people who 
think someone in a wheelchair 
cannot hear, or that someone with 
cerebral palsy is not intelligent 
because speech is slow and la- 
bored. Often, when people who 
use wheelchairs participate in 
classes and social settings, they 
may find that people talk over 
their heads or behind their backs. 
One explanation, not an excuse, 
for such rudeness is that people 
may feel somewhat "guilty" that 
they are able to get around easily 
when the other person can't. 


That All May Worship 

Consider these 

A college senior using a 
wheelchair is out for dinner 
with his girlfriend. The wait- 
ress looks at her and asks, 
"And what will HE have?" 

"I'd much rather have 
someone deal with me di- 
rectly, maybe even say the 
wrong thing, than to say 
nothing at all. Words I can 
handle. Being ignored is 

"Listen to the straight 
questions of children about 
my chair. They're great! They 
want to know what happened 
to me, how fast I can go in 
the chair, how it works, what 
I can do with it, and whether 
I hurt. They're into real 
questions! Adults at the 
church coffee hour clam up, 
look the other way, act 
embarrassed and try to shoo 
the children away." 

"It's ten times easier for me 
to buy a pizza or beer than to 
get into my synagogue." 

Improving Personal 

♦ Sit, in order to be at eye level 
when talking with a person using 
a wheelchair. 

♦ Do not move a wheelchair, 
crutches or walker out of reach. 
Ask if assistance is needed. 

♦ Do not lean on the wheelchair 
or otherwise "invade" the person's 

♦ When buffet or cafeteria lines 
cause inconveniences, get sugges- 
tions and offer to earn' the 
person's plate or tray. 


That All May Worship 

Widening Congregational 

♦ Provide outside barrier-free 
access including curbcuts, street 
level or ramped entrances, and 32" 
doorways with adequate and level 
entry space. (Please see Audit of 
Barriers, beginning on page 45.) 

♦ Designate 12'6" wide 
parking spaces near the accessible 

♦ Lower elevator control 

♦ Provide an accessible source 
of water. If a drinking fountain or 
cooler cannot be lowered, provide 
a cup dispenser beside it. 

♦ Adapt a bathroom (which 
may be unisex) and install grab 
bars, raised toilet seats, sinks at 
appropriate levels, lever type 
faucets, towel dispensers and 
appropriately positioned mirrors. 

♦ Extend hand rails beyond the 
top or bottom step, a feature 
helpful to those with braces, 
crutches, canes and walkers. 

♦ Install firm carpeting and 
reduce floor slickness. 

♦ Shorten several pews so one 
or more wheelchairs can fit into 
the main body of the congregation 
and not be placed awkwardly in 
aisles. Scatter these pew cuts 
throughout the sanctuary to 
allow a choice of seating near 

♦ Build a ramp to the altar or 
bimah and to all raised portions of 
the sanctuary. 

♦ Move the location of any 
classroom that is inaccessible. 

♦ Contact the national denomi- 
national headquarters to see if 
there is a low-interest loan fund to 
assist local congregations in 
remodeling buildings for accessi- 

♦ Think about room arrange- 
ments for all meetings, coffee hour 
gatherings or receptions. Is there 
clearance in halls? Is the meeting 

Some congregations delay making necessary 
restroom changes thinking them "less impor- 
tant" than other building projects. But, in the 
language of many people with disabilities, 

"Ifive, can't go, 
we u)on 't come! " 

or eating table a convenient 
height? Are there loose or curling 
rugs that will impede travel? Are 
there enough chairs for people 
who tire easily? 

♦ Set microphones at the 
appropriate height and location to 
be easily accessible. 

♦ Have someone available to 
open heavy doors. 

♦ Offer to provide a notetaker, 
if manual dexterity is impaired. 

♦ Have a supply of straws 
available for those who have 
difficulty holding a cup, glass 
or can. 

Note:The metal stall dividers in 
most bathrooms represent a major 
barrier for people in wheelchairs. 
If it is not possible to remodel 
immediately to include an acces- 
sible stall, remove the metal walls 
entirely, and surround the toilet 
area with a hospital curtain. This 
temporary measure allows privacy 
and is easily accomplished. 


That All May Worship 

Welcoming a 
PersonWno Is 
Blind or 
Has Visual 

All congregations include 
people with varying amounts of 
vision. Fortunately, there are ways 
that a person with low vision or 
no vision can be active in the 

worship, education and social life 
of the congregation. 

Improving Personal 

♦ To get a person's attention 
before speaking, speak the 
person's name. In a conversation 
group, identify people by name as 
each is speaking. 

♦ Do not pat a guide dog in 
harness. It is not a pet when on 
the job. 

♦ Feel free to use words such as 
"see" and "look." 

God's word can be 
heard, seen or felt. 

♦ When guiding, give verbal 
clues to what is ahead, such as 
steps, curbs, escalators or doors. 

♦ Inform the person when you 
are leaving. 

Widening Congregational 

♦ Describe materials being 
distributed to a group which 
includes a blind person. Summa- 
rize information displayed on a 

♦ Accept a guide dog in the 
sanctuary as you would any guide. 

♦ Produce bulletins and the 
words to hymns, litanies and 
prayers in large print by using 
copy machine enlargers. Provide 
brailled versions if requested. 

♦ Have available large-print 
hymnals, missals. Bibles and 

♦ Make audio tapes of entire 
sendees, sermons, speeches or 
seasonal spiritual study guides. 

♦ Offer a volunteer reader 

♦ Improve sanctuary and 
hallway lighting, especially around 
staircases and other areas of 
potential difficulty for people with 
low vision. 

♦ Place brailled information 
plaques on elevator panels. 

Welcoming a 
Person^no is 
Dear or 
Hard or Hearin 

Each congregation includes 
people, young and old, who are 
hard of hearing or deaf. They may 
read lips so well that they appear 
less deaf than they truly are. 
Indeed, they may understand only 
80 percent of what is spoken, 
chanted or sung, but may be 
reluctant to complain. Knowing 
this, a congregation will want to 
replace poorly functioning sound 
systems and consider additional 

Signing is a beautiful art form, 
essential to a full experience 
for deaf members in the 


That All May Worship 

People who are hard of hearing 

communicate through enhanced 
sound and lipreading. Sound 
systems which serve everyone are 
important additions to the sanctu- 
ary and meeting rooms. But in 
order to be fully involved in 
worship and study, a person with 
partial hearing may benefit from 
assistive listening devices (ALDs) 
such as a hearing aid, an audio 
loop worn around the neck and a 
small microphone worn on the 
speaker's lapel. 

People who are deaf prefer 
interpreted conversation using 
American Sign Language (ASL) , 
Signed English or Cued Speech. 
Since ASL is a language with its 
own syntax allowing for the 
exchange of ideas on many levels, 
it forms the basis for what is 
known as the Deaf Culture. 

Signing is a beautiful art form. 
It will greatly enrich the worship 
experience for all, once the con- 
gregation becomes accustomed to 
it. For many people who are deaf, 
however, it is more than an art 
form. It is the primary way to 
understand the full content 
of worship. 

Many deaf people prefer to 
worship in a deaf congregation. 
Others seek a mainstream reli- 
gious community which is able to 
arrange for sign language or oral 
interpretation of worship services 
and activities. This is particularly 
important for deaf parents who 
have hearing children and wish to 
worship as a family. 

Improving Personal 

♦ To get a person's attention 
before speaking, tap on elbow and 
speak face to face. 

♦ Look at and speak to the 
person rather than the interpreter. 

The interpreter may be greeted 
privately but, when the interpreter 
is working, he or she is a transmit- 
ter for the person who is deaf, not 
a participant. 

♦ Speak at a moderate pace, 
clearly but without exaggeration. 

♦ Avoid covering the mouth 
while speaking. Beards and mous- 
taches also make it harder to 

♦ Do not stand in front of a 
window or bright light, since it 
puts the face in shadow and makes 
lipreading more difficult. 

♦ Do not pretend to understand 
if the speech of a person is un- 
clear. Request that the person 
rephrase until the point is clear. 

♦ Communicate by telephone 
with deaf members at home by 
using relay services, available in 
most states. Consult the telephone 
book for the local number. 

Widening Congregational 

♦ Provide seating near speakers 
and interpreter. Usher the person 
to an appropriate seat. 

♦ On important holy days, 
provide an interpreter and re- 
served seating in the main sanctu- 
ary. If there is televised broadcast- 
ing of the service to overflow 
crowds, provide an interpreter in 
that room as well. 

♦ Be sure that important 
announcements are also provided 
in print form. Remember to 
inform someone bringing an 
interpreter of cancellations or any 
change of time or place. 

♦ Use pencil and paper to 
communicate when necessary. 

♦ Reduce background noise 
from radios, television sets and 
loud fans. 


Thai All Ma) Worship 

♦ Purchase assistive listening 
devices (ALDs) for large assembly 
areas and small meeting areas. 

ALDs are systems which com- 
bine with a person's hearing aid to 
augment and clarify sound in a 
group setting. Examples are 
personal and group FM systems 
(using radio waves), loop systems 
(using magnetic waves), infrared 
systems (using light waves) and 
hardwire systems (directly con- 
necting the speaker and listener). 

The key to the success of ALDs 
is in the speaker's use of a lapel 
microphone which reduces 
background noise as it transmits 
the voice to the person wearing 
the hearing aid. 

♦ Do a weekly check of batter- 
ies in listening devices. 

♦ Encourage those who use 
equipment to inform someone if 
ALDs are not working properly. 

♦ Purchase a telecommunica- 
tions device (TDD) for the church 
or synagogue office so that a deaf 
or hard of hearing person can call 
the staff and religious leaders. 
Advertise the availability of 

the TDD. 

TDDs allow deaf people and 
non-deaf people to talk to one 
another over the telephone lines 
using a small terminal with a 
screen and an abbreviated key- 
board, something like a type- 
writer. A TDD may be purchased 
for under $300. 

♦ Encourage some members of 
the congregation and staff to learn 
American Sign Language, Signed 
English, and/or finger spelling as a 
way to increase the number of 
times the deaf person feels "at 
home" within the congregation. 

O Qod, 

The trouble about being deaf is 

That most people find deaf folks a nuisance. 

They sympathize with 

People who are blind and lame; 

But they get irritated and 

Annoyed with people who are deaf. 

And the result of this is that 

Deaf people are apt to avoid company. 

And get more and more lonely. 

And more and more shut in. 

Give me 

Perseverance not to let this trouble get me down. 

Don't let it cut me off from others. 

And help me to remember, Lord, 

Whatever happens, 

Nothing can stop me from hearing Your voice. 

— William Barclay 


That All May Worship 

Welcoming a 
PersonWitn a 
Mental Illness 

A person with a mental illness 
has a biological dysfunction in his 
or her brain that may cause 
serious disturbances in the way 
the person thinks, feels and relates 
to other people. Because of the 
disorder, the person may find it 
difficult to cope with the ordinary 
demands of daily life. Such disor- 
ders affect individuals of all ages, 
and they occur in many American 

"Perfect love casts out 


'But, perfect fear casts out 

all love.' 

— Author Unknown 

families, across all boundaries of 
income, education, race and 

The exact causes of the many 
severe mental illnesses, sometimes 

Only one in five people suffering a diagnos- 
able psychiatric disorder seeks treatment. 
Instead, they suffer in silence, reproaching 
themselves for not "pulling themselves up by 
their bootstraps." They don't understand that 
the illness itself destroys those "bootstraps." 

— American Psychiatric Association 

called psychiatric disorders, are 
not known. These are brain-based 
illnesses that are not caused by 
poor parenting or other social 
causes. They are treatable ill- 
nesses. With appropriate medical 
care, a person with a mental 
illness can lead a life of quality. 

People with mental illnesses 
agree that the hardest part of 
living with their situation is the 
stigma and lack of understanding 
they encounter from others. Since 
their disabilities are not physically 
visible, it is hard for others to 
adjust to unexpected and "differ- 
ent" behaviors. Sadly, most people 
have limited knowledge about 
mental illness and may believe 
some of the myths about it. Some 
may even fear "catching" mental 
illness themselves. Because of this, 
they may not know what to do or 
say, and they turn away in their 

There are also persons in all 
congregations who do not have a 
major mental illness, but suffer 
from episodes of poor mental 
health. Their poor mental health is 
often due to environmental 
stresses and traumatic life experi- 
ences. Professional counseling and 
a caring congregation will help 


[•hat All M.n Worship 

these people to experience a better 
quality of life. 

In some faith communities, 
unfortunately, there are misin- 
formed people who think that God 
punishes persons for spiritual 
flaws by giving them mental 
illness. Relying on biblical pas- 
sages taken out of scriptural and 
historical context, some religious 
leaders and congregation members 
consider psychiatric illness as 
evidence of the presence of "evil." 
This adds further pain and isola- 
tion to the person and his or her 
family members. In welcoming a 
person with a mental illness: 

♦ Try to remain noncritical 
when encountering unusual 
behavior, giving responses that are 
supportive of the person. 

♦ Cultivate the ability to listen. 

♦ Ask the person how the 
congregation might be supportive. 

♦ Offer either community or 
private intercessor)' prayer. 

♦ Make referrals to profession- 
als, when appropriate. 

♦ Do not deny that the person 
has serious difficulties that may 
continue a long time. 

♦ Offer choices of opportunities 
and tasks appropriate to the 
person's ability. 

♦ Be sensitive to the fact that 
physical touch, such as a friendly 
pat, a hug or squeeze of the hand, 
affects people differently. Some 
appreciate the caring, but others 
find touch threatening. 

♦ Be prepared for anger that has 
no obvious basis. Try not to take it 
personally. Avoid lecturing, 
arguments, blame and acts that 
increase tension. 

♦ Remember that the person or 
family may be in need but may be 
reluctant to ask for assistance. 
Mental illness still causes great 

Widening Congregational 

♦ Create opportunities for the 
congregation to learn about 
mental illness. 

♦ Understand that a large 
portion of people who are home- 
less have mental illnesses. Adapt 
social outreach programs to their 

♦ Advocate on behalf of those 
with psychiatric disorders as they 
seek housing, employment and 
social activities. 

Improving Tersonat Interactions 

When a person... 

has trouble with reality; 

is fearful; 

is insecure; 

has trouble concentrating; 

is overstimulated; 

becomes easily agitated; 

sounds unclear, has poor 

is preoccupied; 
is withdrawn; 
keeps changing plans; 
believes delusions; 
has little empathy; 
has low self-esteem; 


be simple, truthful, 
stay calm, 
be accepting, 
be brief, repeat, 
limit input, 
allow person to 

change subject or location. 
do not expect rational 

get attention first, 
initiate relevant conversation, 
keep to one plan, 
ignore, don't argue, 
recognize as a symptom, 
stay positive. 

Adapted from "Bridgebuilder," Alliance for the Mentally 111, 
Orange County, CA. 


That All May Worship 

Welcoming a 
D e velopment al 

People with developmental 
disabilities have lifelong disabling 
conditions which occurred at or 
before birth, in childhood or 
before the age of twenty-two. The 
conditions include mental retarda- 
tion, spinal cord injury, epilepsy, 
sensory impairment, cerebral 
palsy, autism, and traumatic brain 
injury, as well as other conditions 
resulting in limitations. This legal 
definition of developmental 
disability dictates who may or may 
not be served by certain govern- 
ment programs. 

The term "developmental 
disability" is complicated by the 
fact that some people with cerebral 
palsy or autism may have ad- 
vanced intellectual skills but 
limited physical development, 
while people with mental retarda- 
tion have slower rates of learning 
and limited capacity for abstract 

Seventy percent of people with 
developmental disabilities have 
mental retardation. Children and 
adults with mental retardation 
mature at a below-average rate and 
experience difficulty in learning, 
social adjustment and economic 
productivity. Mental retardation is 
not a disease, nor should it be 
confused with mental illness. 
Many self-advocates with this 

"I'm not retarded. 

— Anonymous Self-Advocate 

particular disability feel that the 
words "retarded" and "retarda- 
tion" are so hurtful that they 
should no longer be used. In 
consideration of these feelings, the 
Association for Retarded Citizens 
of the United States changed its 
name in 1991to "The Arc." 

There are multiple causes of 
developmental disabilities, includ- 
ing genetic disorder, birth trauma 
and accident after birth. Among 
societal ills which can result in 
mental retardation are substance 
abuse, lead poisoning, poor 
prenatal care and head injury. 

Each person with developmen- 
tal disability should be offered 
early and 
training and 
ment to be as 
as possible. 
Most chil- 
dren and 

adults with these disabilities can 
learn to live, work and socialize 
with a small amount of caring 
supervision. Others require more 

People with developmental 
disabilities, especially intellectual 
disabilities, have often been 
treated as less than fully 
human. Today, religious and lay 
leaders are beginning to under- 
stand that those with developmen- 
tal disabilities who have been 
lovingly included in family and 
community have much to offer a 
welcoming congregation. They 
may exhibit qualities "that abide," 
such as faith and hope, and have a 
meaningful relationship with God. 

It is not wise to assume that a 
person will "get nothing" from 
attending sendees. Faith is not 
measured by how fast it develops, 
nor are we fully aware of the depth 


That All May Worship 

and breadth of what any one of us 
gains from worship. When we 
restrain someone with develop- 
mental disability from participat- 
ing, we may be more worried 
about our own potential "embar- 
rassment" than we are concerned 
about his or her religious 

Improving Personal 

♦ Treat adults with develop- 
mental disabilities as adults, not as 

♦ Talk to the person directly, 
not through a companion or 
family member. 

♦ Be patient. Give instructions 
slowly, in short sentences, one 
step at a time. 

♦ Allow the person to try tasks 
on his or her own, to make mis- 
takes, take a longer time and to 
persevere. Do not impatiently take 
over doing things for the person 
which she or he can do alone. 

Widening Congregational 

♦ Provide opportunities for 
participation in all congregational 

♦ Find concrete ways for the 
child or adult with retardation to 
assist before, during and after the 
worship sendee. Some possibilities 

• Passing out programs 
and bulletins 

• Filling the water glass for 
the religious leader 

• Collecting materials left in 
pews after services 

♦ Find appropriate ways to 
increase knowledge and under- 
standing among the members of a 
congregation, especially among 
peer groups of children. 

♦ Provide "hands on" experi- 
ences in social and teaching 

♦ Offer an older child with 
developmental disability the 
opportunity to help the teacher of 
younger children with cutting, 


That All May Worship 

pasting, reading and straightening 
the classroom. 

♦ Assist persons with develop- 
mental disability to participate in 
denominational activities such as 
retreats, camping programs, 
conferences and assemblies. 

♦ Sponsor a self-advocacy 
program such as "People First" or 
"Speaking for Ourselves." 

♦ Integrate students with 
developmental disabilities into 
regular classes, whenever possible. 

♦ Form a relationship with a 
group home in the neighborhood. 
Activities can take place in the 
congregation's building or out in 
the community. Possibilities 
include everything from worship 
to hockey games! Don't overlook 
home improvement projects at the 
group home such as painting a 
room, weeding the garden or 
sewing new curtains. 

Welcoming a 

A person who has one or more 
learning disabilities has constant 
interruption in the basic, brain- 
centered processes that affect 
listening, thinking, speaking, 
reading, writing, spelling and 
sometimes calculating. The person 
has average to above-average 
intelligence, although learning is 
slower or different in the affected 
areas. This invisible disability is 
frequently not diagnosed. The 
frustrations experienced usually 
result in low self-esteem and 
uneven performance, and fre- 
quently in behavioral difficulties. 

A Mother s (Prayer 

O God, help me now. My soul is weighed 
down with this burden. My heart aches for 
my child. Sometimes I wish I could wrap him 
in my arms and flee away from the taunts 
and accusing jeers of thoughtless classmates, 
away from the pressures of evaluations and 
examinations. Envelop us both in your 
healing arms, dear God, and bind our 
wounds. Carry us by faith beyond the pain 
of these days. Be our refuge. Amen. 

— Anne Sheppard 

The person with learning disability 
does not have developmental 
disability, mental illness or a 
communicable disease. 

Some symptoms of learning 
disability include: 

♦ short attention span 

♦ poor memory 

♦ difficulty following 

♦ inability to discriminate 
between and among numbers, 
letters and sounds 

♦ poor reading ability 

♦ problems with eye-hand 

Contrary to popular myth, it is 
not possible to "grow out of a 
learning disability. It is a lifelong 
condition. Some people with these 
learning differences miss social 
cues, do not learn easily from 
experience, and are physically and 
socially immature. Indeed, it is 
often said that the young person is 
"eighteen going on thirteen," or 
about five years less mature than 
his or her peers. In addition, there 
may be an uneven ability to retain 
information resulting in failure in 
school and in the workplace. 


Thai All May Worship 

The child or young adult with 
learning disabilities frequently 
experiences repeated failure in 
schooling and in the workplace, 
painful encounters in daily social 
life and continuing tension at 
home. Feeling impatient and 
somewhat inadequate themselves, 
teachers, supervisors, peers, 
parents and siblings may have 
difficulty understanding "why he 
won't try harder!" It is not hard to 
see that the accumulated frustra- 
tions experienced by someone 
with a learning disability may lead 
to emotional problems. 

The religious congregation can 
be a welcoming haven of accep- 
tance and affirmation for children 
and adults with learning disabili- 
ties, free from the rejection and 
extreme stress they experience in 
most other places. 

Improving Personal 

♦ Build confidence and skill by 
helping to develop interests and 
the opportunity to share them. 

♦ Be direct and specific in 
conversation and in teaching. 
Give instructions simply. 

♦ Use teaching techniques 
appealing to different senses. 

♦ Be patient and flexible. 

♦ Have realistic expectations. 

♦ Help the person understand 
how the disability is connected to 
social interaction with peers, 
families, teachers and employers. 

Widening Congregational 

♦ Help teachers and parents to 
examine expectations within the 
faith tradition which relate to 
educational achievement. 

♦ Provide a personal teacher 
and advocate for the child or 
young teenager who is being 
baptized or confirmed, or is 
joining the church or synagogue. 

♦ Find creative ways to adapt 
the teaching of Hebrew, Latin, 
Greek or other languages impor- 
tant to religious expression. This 
is, of course, essential in preparing 
a young boy to become a Bar 
Mitzvab or a girl, a Bat Mitzvah. 

♦ Adapt seminar}- curricula for 
those with learning disabilities 
studying to be priests, rabbis or 


That All May Worship 

"Get involved in the lives of 
other believers, and let them 
get involved in yours." 

— Joni Eareckson Tada 

Welcoming a 
PersonWitn a 
Chronic Illness 

Every congregation has mem- 
bers who have one of the many 
chronic illnesses, which persist for 
months or years and generally 
interfere with an individual's 
everyday ability to function. The 
effects of the particular illness may 

be invisible, or can be camou- 
flaged until the most acute stages 
begin. Thus, few people in the 
congregation may know that the 
person is ill. For others, periodic 
"flare ups" may require hospital- 
ization and result in some of the 
disabling conditions described 
elsewhere in this Handbook. 
Among the many types of 
chronic disabilities are psychiatric 
disorders, AIDS/HIV, seizure 
disorders, respirator)' conditions, 
diabetes and other metabolic 
disturbances, head trauma, sickle 
cell anemia, cardiac conditions, 
multiple sclerosis, muscular 
dystrophy and other neuro- 
muscular degenerative diseases, 
gastrointestinal disorders, aller- 
gies, the many forms of cancer, 
arthritis, chronic back pain, lupus, 
osteoporosis, glaucoma, retinitis, 
cataracts and numerous other 
visual impairments. 


Why would someone hide the 
fact of such an illness from mem- 
bers of the church or synagogue? 
Is it fear of rejection? The dread 
of pity? 


Yes. Previous negative experi- 
ences, even subtle or inadvertent 
thoughtlessness, result in fear of 
further rejection. 

That All May Worship 

From the point of view of the 
congregation, if people do not 
really know how a disease is 
spread, they may think they can 
"catch" mental illness or AIDS or 
epilepsy in casual social situations. 
Feeling apprehensive and not 
understanding the illness, they 
may avoid those whose behavior 
or appearance make them uncom- 

As lay and religious leaders 
learn about conditions that are 
present within the congregation, 
they can provide a loving example 
of how to offer spiritual, physical 
and moral support. 

Improving Personal 

♦ Be sensitive to the possibility 
of hidden chronic illness, if a 
person repeatedly declines to 
participate in activities. 

♦ Persist in efforts to find 
suitable avenues of involvement. 

♦ Accept their fears about the 
future. Sometimes apprehension 
about increasing dependency 
affects motivation and willingness 
to join activities in the present. 

♦ Invite the person to be part of 
the Task Force on Disability 
Issues. Planning for others with 
disabilities may provide an atmos- 
phere where self-acceptance 

Widening Congregational 

♦ Include in congregational 
prayer and private intercessory 
prayer "those with chronic ill- 
nesses." In other words, offer an 
atmosphere of support. 

♦ Make the congregation aware, 
clearly but tactfully, that some 
people with allergies or other 
respiratory conditions are very 
sensitive to strong perfume and 
smoke. Severe respirator)' distress 
can be triggered if the air is not 

♦ Provide opportunities to learn 
about the two types of chronic 
illness that are most feared: AIDS 
and psychiatric disorders. The 
label "modern lepers" has been 
applied to each group. As mem- 
bers of the congregation begin to 
study these illnesses, ways to offer 
compassionate hospitality will be 
discovered and put into practice. 


If we believe that we have no future, then it 
will surely be so. If we speak of our 
infirmities as a sentence of death, then our 
words will become reality. But so too, if we 
believe in our own value, plan for our own 
future and accomplish some of those things 
which are important to us, then our lives 
will be full, and happy and rewarding. 
Living with AIDS is no different from living 
without AIDS — unless we make it so. It 
doesn't matter how much time any of us 
have. It only matters what we do with it. 
There are no guarantees for anyone — for we 
are all part of the human condition. 

— Craig W. McHenry 


That All May Worship 

Care ror Caregivers 

For each person with a severe 
disability, there is a circle of 
support made up of the primary 
caregiver and a group of family 
and friends. They share problems 
and challenges, as well as joys and 
successes. To be a caregiver, 
however, many must give up their 
own independence. They usually 
find, in return, little status in the 
eyes of society, and meager finan- 
cial support is generally offered for 
their efforts. 

It is essential that the caregiver 
confer dignity, comfort and hope 
upon the person with disability, 
day by day, and not feel like a 
martyr. To do so, she or he needs 
multiple sources of personal 
affirmation. The congregation can 
be one of the places where the 
caregiver finds practical and 
spiritual support that can make all 
the difference. 

Alan Reich, father of the 
bride, also serves as President 
of the National Organization 
on Disability. 


Thai All Ma) \\ orship 

Wko Are trie 

♦ Mother of a new baby with a 
severe, life-threatening condition, 
such as immature lungs 

♦ Grandmother raising the 
toddler of her drug-addicted 

♦ Parent of a three-year-old 
with juvenile arthritis 

♦ Newly divorced 
parents of a child with 
learning disabilities 

♦ Siblings embar- 
rassed by their ten- 
year-old brother with 

attention deficit disorder and 

♦ Mother of a junior-high-aged 
son who is hard of hearing 

♦ Father of a special education 
graduate not sufficiently trained to 
be employed 

♦ Parents of a teenager who is 
experimenting with alternate 
lifestyles and drugs 

♦ Sister of a twenty-five-year- 
old with a head injur)' 

♦ Mother of a recent college 
graduate with paraplegia and 
angry about dependence on family 

♦ Husband of a young mother 
with a new diagnosis of multiple 

♦ Wife of a thirty-year-old man 
with mental illness and threaten- 
ing suicide 

♦ Female friend of man with 

♦ Fiance of a young woman 
progressively losing sight 

♦ Wife of an alcohol-dependent 
executive, in denial 

♦ Parents of a middle-aged son 
with AIDS 

♦ Companion of a forty-six- 
year-old woman with mild 

♦ Son whose aging mother is 
deaf and financially needy 

♦ Wife of a retired football 
coach, suddenly quadraplegic 

♦ Middle-aged daughter of a 
man with Alzheimer's disease 
living at home 

♦ Elderly parents of an adult 
son with developmental disability 

In all these situations, and 
innumerable others, the parents, 
spouse, siblings, children and 
other caregivers are under enor- 
mous emotional and physical 
strain. Friends in a religious 
community can offer assistance at 
many levels by: 

In biblical terms, all caregivers 
need a sabbath, a time apart from 
the tasks of caregiving in order to 
renew energy and spirit, body and 
soul. This is an opportunity for 
congregations to embody a faith 
that sustains others over the 
long haul. 


That All May Worship 

Relieving the Routine of 
Long-term Care 

♦ Plan an occasional outing 
together, such as shopping, a walk 
or a trip to the museum. Have 
another friend from the congrega- 
tion provide the necessary care or 

companionship to make it 

♦ Allow time away to accom- 
plish personal and family business. 

♦ Develop three or four congre- 
gational friends or families to 
provide care on an alternating, 
regular basis so that the caregiver 
can be assured of evenings out and 
weekends away. 

♦ Train young people in the 
congregation to be sitters for 
children with disabilities. 

♦ Send occasional notes, cards 
or flowers. 

♦ Make a quick phone call, 
especially to share an amusing 
anecdote. A sense of humor is an 
invaluable source of perspective 
and it needs to be nourished. 

♦ Be a friend. Have a non- 
judgmental attitude. Be available 
to listen. Be a source of interesting 
stories to "change the subject." 

♦ Call and say, "I'm bringing a 
casserole tomorrow night. Is there 
anything you need at the market 
since it's on my way?" Don't call 
to ask, "What can I do to help?" 
Having to make suggestions is an 
added pressure. 

♦ Offer opportunities for 
caregivers to use their creative 
talents, such as decorating, 
gardening or arranging flowers. 

That All May Worship 

"If your faith had been 
stronger,.. " and other 
things not to say 

How often people repeat time-worn phrases, 
with not a thought for the painful impact the 
words may have. Please, think before you 

NOT to Say: 

"If your faith had been stronger, you would 
have been healed long ago." 


"I don't know why this happened in your life. 
I really hurt for you." 

NOT to Say: 

"If there is anything I can do, just let me know." 


"I'm taking my son to the zoo. Would any of 
your children like to come with us?" 

NOT to Say: 

"There's always somebody who's worse off. 
Just think about that man in this morning's 


"You have experienced an incredible loss. I am 
so sorry." 

NOT to Say: 

"God must have had a reason for this tragedy 
happening to you and your family. But, God 
never gives us more than we can bear." 


"It's hard to understand what God is doing in 
this. I will pray that you will feel God's sustain- 
ing love and comfort." 

— Kathv Sheetz 

♦ Get the caregiver or the 
person with disability to make a 
list of specific tasks that would 
give pleasure or be helpful. Genu- 
inely interested friends who do 
ask, "What I can do to help?" may 
then select from the list. 

♦ Offer to be the driver one day 
a week, for trips to the hospital or 
rehabilitation center. 

♦ Keep caregivers on the list for 
intercessory prayer. Pray that: 

• Caregivers focus on the 
positive in each day. 

• Parents not be over- 
whelmed by difficult 
decisions and daily 
management dilemmas. 

• Siblings develop resilience 
and insight rather than 
bitterness and resentment. 

♦ Enable caregivers to nurture 
their own spiritual lives by offer- 
ing rides to worship sendees and 
relief from caregiving tasks at 

♦ Encourage creative long-term 
planning regarding care for the 
person with disability who is 
aging. Help mobilize family 
resources, if such assistance is 
welcome, and suggest names of 
lawyers, physicians, insurance 
agents and religious leaders with 
problem-solving skills. 

♦ Support the family who must 
place a member in a residential 
care facility. Be aware that several 
family members may experience 
guilt, shame and loneliness. 
Provide counseling opportunities 
during the decision-making 


That All May Worship 

period, during the initial weeks 
after the placement and when 
appropriate thereafter. 

♦ Keep congregational ties with 
the person living in a residential 
facility through visits, newsletters 
and other activities. 

Responding in the Crisis 

Some actions are most appropri- 
ate during the initial stages of a 
crisis caused by an accident, 
sudden illness or death. 

♦ Organize a group to prepare 
well-balanced meals. Freeze some 
meals and deliver others for the 
immediate family spending long 
hours at the hospital. 

♦ Offer to be present during 
some of the long hospital waiting 

♦ Suggest, and offer to arrange 
for, an answering service so 
messages can give updated news 
and people may leave expressions 
of concern. 

♦ Offer to be the person at 
home or at the office who is the 
information link with others who 
are concerned. 

After the Crisis 

A month after the accident, 
sudden illness or death, the 
primary caregiver settles into the 
"rest of my life." Fatigue, discour- 
agement and depression begin to 
overcome the energetic response 
to the first stage of crisis. This is 
the time that some people appreci- 
ate a second wave of meals, errand 
runners and friendly callers. 
Others may welcome an occa- 
sional social invitation. Still others 
may prefer opportunities for 
gradual reinvolvement in the life 
of the community. For some, it is 
meaningful for the pastor, priest, 
rabbi or close friends to acknowl- 
edge the anniversary of an acci- 
dent or death with a call, note 
or visit. 

(Beatitudes for friends and fatuity 

Blessed are you who take time to listen to difficult speech, 
for you help us persevere until we are understood. 

Blessed are you who walk with us in public places and ignore 

the stares of strangers, 

for we find havens of relaxation in your companionship. 

Blessed are you who never bid us to "hurry up," and 
more blessed are you who do not snatch our tasks from 
our hands to do them for us, 
for often we need time — rather than help. 

Blessed are you who stand beside us as we enter 
new and untried ventures, 
for the delight we feel when we surprise you 
outweighs all the frustrating failures. 

Blessed are you who ask for our help, 
for our greatest need is to be needed. 

— Author Unknown 


That All M.u Worship 

Administering the sacrament of 
communion at the bedside 
reinforces the presence of God's 
love in the home. 


That All May Worship 

Proclaim Pro 

At some point, lay and religious 
leaders should publicly declare 
that people with disabilities are 
welcome in the congregation. Such 
a declaration is a celebration of 
progress toward the goal of 
becoming a fully inclusive congre- 
gation. This welcome should not 
be delayed until every desirable 
change has been made, every 
program is in place or every 
attitude has been examined. 

In local newspaper 

♦ Use the accessibility logo. 

♦ Indicate accessible public 

♦ Advertise services interpreted 
for worshipers who are deaf. 

On outside signs and 
publicity posters 

♦ Use the accessibility logo. 

♦ Include the words "ALL ARE 
WELCOME." The phrase now has 
new meaning. 

♦ Provide directions to acces- 
sible entrances on doorways that 
are inaccessible. 

On inside bulletin boards 
or signs 

♦ Remind members about all 
special accommodations, classes 
and opportunities. 

♦ Indicate locations of acces- 
sible restrooms. 

In congregation newsletters 
and bulletins 

♦ Print a list of accommoda- 
tions available to people with 

♦ Run a story or celebratory 
announcement about new classes, 
accommodations or opportunities. 

♦ Issue periodic open invita- 
tions to join the Task Force on 
Disability Issues. Publicize 

(Don 't hide your ramp 
under a busfiell 

— The Rev. Paul Fcuerstein 


That All May Worship 


Serving communion is an 
important leadership 
opportunity for a person 
with a disability. 


That All May Worship 

It's You I Lil 



J- hi 

t's you I like, 

It's not the things you wear, 

It's not the way you do your 

hair — But it's you I like 

The way you are right now, 

The way down deep inside you — 

Not the things that hide you, 

Not your toys — 

They're just beside you. 

But it's you I like, 

Every part of you, 

Your skin, your eyes, your feelings 

Whether old or new. 

I hope that you'll remember 

Even when you're feeling blue 

That it's you I like, 

It's you yourself, 

It's you, it's you I like. 

© 1970 by Fred M. Rogers 
All Rights Reserved 

Fred Rogers is a composer, writer, television 
producer, Presbyterian minister, president of 
Family Communications, Inc. and, above all, a 
friend of children. He cares deeply about children 
and the healthy emotional growth of families. 
Fred Rogers is known by children as the host of 
"Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," a public television 
program which reaches more than seven million 
families each week. One of the many songs Mr. 
Rogers sings on his show is "It's You I Like." This 
simple tune summarizes the affirmation we all 
seek. For, despite our weaknesses and disabilities, 
we long to be accepted and loved, as we are. This 
is the unconditional love which God offers us, 
young and old, with and without disabilities. 


That All Ma) Worship 

Bruce Saypol is called to the 
Torah while his wife Libby reads 
and Joe Rosenstein interprets. 


That All May Worship 



An Audit 
or Barriers 

Many people with disabilities 
have had negative worship experi- 
ences in the House of God. They 
have met subtle thoughtlessness 
and outright rejection. Many have 
lost the will to worship and they 
question the relevance of faith. 

When buildings are structurally 
inaccessible, those with mobility 
impairments cannot get in. When 
the Word is only spoken, those 
with hearing problems are denied 
some or all of the message. When 
announcements are in print form 
only, those with poor sight miss 
opportunities. When general 
invitations are issued and mem- 
bers with a mental illness or 
another chronic illness are not 
personally invited, they may 
assume they are excluded. When 
leadership appointments are made 
and each person selected appears 
to be physically or mentally 
"perfect," the person with a 
disability may doubt his or her 
own usefulness. 

As the people of God open their 
minds to such dilemmas, they will 
begin a process of opening doors, 
eyes, ears and hearts to the won- 
ders of a shared life of faith. They 
will care enough to remove the 
barriers of attitude, communica- 
tion and architecture. 

Attitudinal Barriers 

The toughest barriers for people 
with disabilities to overcome are 
the attitudes of those who have 
inadequate information about 
disability. For the members of the 
faith community to become 
knowledgeable, they must get to 
know, in some depth, people with 
physical, sensory and intellectual 
differences. Thereafter, including 
them in the life of the congrega- 
tion will be a great deal easier. 

Reflect about attitudes evident 
in the congregation toward people 
with disabilities, and use this list 
as a springboard for discussion. 

♦ Are persons with disabilities 
welcome to worship with us? 

♦ If not, what are we doing 

♦ Are there people with invis- 
ible disabilities who are members? 

♦ Do we recognize the gifts of 
people with disabilities and are 
they fully involved in the life of 
the congregation? 

♦ Are people with disabilities 
given opportunities to serve others 
within the congregation and in the 
outreach programs? 

♦ Are positions of leadership 
offered to individuals who happen 
to have a disability? 

♦ How does the congregation 
respond to religious or lay leaders 
who acquire a serious disability? 

Communications Barriers 

Communication is the inter- 
change of thoughts, ideas, feelings 
and facts. There is a barrier to 
communication when the content 
of a message is not understood. 
Various devices and sensitive 
actions can help compensate for 
visual, auditory or mental disabili- 
ties so that every person can 
absorb the message of God's love. 

Use this list to review commu- 
nication possibilities within the 
congregation. Check the 

U Services and messages pre- 
sented verbally and visually, 

dramatically and musically 

_J Large-print prayerbooks, 
hymnals, missals and Bibles 

U Brailled materials 

U Sermons or entire sendees 
on tape 

_l Amplifying sound system, in 
good order 

—I Sign language interpreted 

LI Adequate lighting 

Thai All May Worship 

U Audio loops and other 
assistive listening devices 

_l Printed sermons 

_l A TDD in the office or 
religious leader's study 

U A religious education program 
which intentionally plans 
experiences for children, 
young adults and older adults 
with disabilities 

U Educational resources in the 
library about various disabling 

_J A comfortable way for people 
with disabilities within the 
congregation to offer sugges- 
tions for reducing barriers 
without being made to feel like 

Architectural Barriers 

When beginning to make the 
architectural and structural 
changes necessary to welcome 
people with disabilities, start with 
things that can be accomplished 
relatively easily. Get underway! 
What is needed are visible signs of 
change, not just lengthy commit- 
tee meetings and hand-wringing. 

It is true that aesthetic and 
historic preservation consider- 
ations must be taken into account 
as welcoming congregations make 
plans to adapt their buildings. And 
some of these adaptations will be 
expensive. It is not an acceptable 
argument, however, to delay 
because of "how few of 'them' we 
have." In God's realm, the number 
of users is not relevant! 

Plan a fundraising strategy that 
involves everyone, young and old, 
rich and not-so-rich. Think about 
everything from bake sales and 
benefit dramas to expensive 
physical changes made in loving 
memory of a deceased relative. In 
addition, remember that some 
religious groups grant low-interest 
loans for these undertakings. 

Begin by consulting members of 
the congregation and their rela- 
tives who are architects, contrac- 
tors, carpenters and plumbers. 
Their skills are needed and this is 
their day to shine! Don't forget to 
consult, in every phase of evalua- 
tion and planning, persons who 
are users of wheelchairs, walkers, 
crutches and canes. By not doing 
so, many churches and synagogues 
have made well-intended but 
inadequate, even wasteful, 
changes. It goes without saying 
that all new construction or 
remodeling should meet current, 
local access codes. 

Use this list to review architec- 
tural barriers. Check for the 


—I Curb cuts to sidewalks and 
ramps to entrances 

_l Pathways at least 48 inches 
wide, with a slope of no more 
than 5 percent 

J Level resting space around 
doors, 5x5 feet 

J Marked accessible parking 
spaces close to accessible 


J Ramps 36 inches wide, mini- 
mum, extending one foot in 
length for every inch of rise, a 
1:12 ratio. Thus, a ramp 
replacing an 8 inch step must 
extend 8 feet. 


That All May Worship 

«J Handrails on at least one side 
of the ramp, 32 inches above 
the surface 

LJ Protection over ramps from 
rain and snow, and non-skid 

_l Stairs with handrails on both 
sides, 32 inches above the 
step, and extending a foot 
beyond the top and bottom of 
the stairs 

LJ Stairs with rubber treads 

iJ Slightly raised abrasive strips 
on top steps to warn people 
with limited sight where stairs 


LJ Door openings 32 inches wide 
or more 

LJ Doors which can be opened 
by exerting 81 pounds of 
pressure, or less 

U Doors which can be opened 
electrically by the push of a 

I— I Lever handles or push bars 


LJ Seating spaces with extra leg 
room for people using 
crutches, walkers, braces or 

—I Scattered spaces or "pew cuts" 
for the users of wheelchairs 
who prefer to be seated in the 
main body of the congrega- 
tion, not in the front or back 
of the sanctuary and not in the 
aisles. These pew cuts can 
easily be made by shortening 
several pews by 36 inches. 

—J Area with lectern and micro- 
phones accessible to those 
with mobility impairments 

LJ Choir area allowing wheel- 
chair users to participate 

LJ Adequate lighting directed on 
the face of the speaker for 
those who read lips, as well as 
adequate general lighting in 
the sanctuary 

LJ Bookstands or lapboards 
available for those unable to 
hold prayerbooks, hymnals or 


—I At least one accessible bath- 
room, ideally one on each 
floor. These may be unisex, as 
in an airplane or a home. 

LJ Wheelchair turning space, 
5x5 feet 

LJ One toilet stall 36 inches wide, 
with 48 inches clear depth 
from door closing to front of 
commode and a 32-inch door 
that swings out 

LJ Grab bars on each side of 
accessible toilet 

_! A hospital or shower curtain 
providing privacy for wheel- 
chair users, if metal dividers 
are removed and other renova- 
tions are not possible at the 

LJ A sink with 29 inches of 

clearance from floor to bottom 
of the sink 

_l Towel dispensers no higher 
than 40 inches from the floor 

_l Lever-type faucet controls and 
hardware on doors 


—J Water fountain mounted with 
basin no more than 36 inches 
from the floor, easily operated 
from wheelchairs 

LJ As an interim measure, a 

supply of paper cups mounted 
next to the water fountain, or 
a water cooler 


_l Elevators or chair lifts to 

insure access to the sanctuary 
and all major program areas 

LJ Controls placed at 54 inches 
or less from the elevator floor, 
reachable from a wheelchair 

LJ Brailled plaques on elevator 
control panels 

LJ A handrail on at least one side, 
32 inches from the floor 


Thai All May Worship 

Architectural Design ror an 
Accessible Sanctuary 

See legend on opposite page. 


That All May Worship 


Covered pathways leading to 
portico and other buildings 


Entry area with glass walls and 
space for overflow seating or 
for assembling participants in 


Wheelchair accessible cabinets 
and pamphlet racks 


Men's restroom with wheel- 
chair accessible facilities 


Wheelchair accessible water 
cooler or water fountain 


Women's restroom with 
wheelchair accessible facilities 


Choir robing room 


Main seating area for approxi- 
mately 350 people 


Bride's preparation room 


Choir area with ramps to 
all levels 


Wheelchair locations within 
the main seating area and 
choir area 

Sanctuary with ramp access to 
each level, including areas for 
individual readings 


Access ramps with a slope of 
1 inch height : 12 inch length 


1. The floor plan shown is 
for a Lutheran church. It can be 
adapted to serve other faith 

2. All exterior entrances into 
the building and interior room 
entrances have doors that are 36 
inches minimum in width. 

3. All exterior pathways are 
level with the door sill of each 

4. All access ramps within the 

sanctuary are designed to blend 
into their respective areas. 

5. The main seating area offers 
more than 15 shortened pews, 
scattered, so that users of wheel- 
chairs can be seated within the 
main body of the congregation. 
not in the aisles. 

6. Aisles are designed for ease 
of wheelchair maneuverability. 

7. Scattered pews are set with 
amplification devices. 


I hal \ll May \\ orship 


encans wi 

ith Disabilities Act 

The Language of the Law 

The Americans with Disabilities 
Act (ADA), signed into law by 
President George Bush on July 26. 
1990, raises to new heights the 
American commitment to equal 
opportunity for all citizens. By this 
legislation, individuals with disabili- 
ties are guaranteed that employment 
or promotion will not be denied 
because of their disabilities, if they are 
otherwise qualified. The law also 
promises accessibility to transporta- 
tion services and public accommoda- 
tions such as restaurants, museums, 
libraries, daycare centers, doctors' 
offices, hotels, private schools, retail 
stores and parks. 

Churches, synagogues and other 
religious organizations or entities 
controlled by religious organizations 
are exempt from the ADA. except for 
the employment provisions. However, 
if a church or synagogue rents space 
to programs funded in part or in 
whole by state or federal dollars, the 
funded program will be required to 
conform to other nondiscrimination 
laws. In addition, if a congregation 
rents space to an independent daycare 
center, the daycare center is required 
to comply with the ADA. 

The Spirit of the Law 

The spirit of the ADA is vers - much 
in keeping with the standards by 
which most congregations worship 
and govern. Indeed, the ADA is an 
enactment in our time of Biblical 
precepts concerning love of neighbor 

and respect for all of God's children. 
The Americans with Disabilities Act 
reflects the principles of love and 
justice which are the underpinnings 
of a life of faith. 

In addition, congregations need to 
be aware of the ADA because they 
often serve as community centers 
offering meal delivery programs, book 
groups. Alcoholics Anonymous 
meetings and daycare for young and 
old. Furthermore, it is within congre- 
gational purposes and to their 
advantage to welcome people in many 
stages of physical ability and disabil- 
ity. Changes in access ramps, door- 
ways, bathrooms and water fountains 
will benefit all users of the buildings, 
not just people with disabilities. 

For Specific Assistance 

For further assistance on the 
precise legal requirements of the 
ADA, readers may call the United 
States Department of Justice: 
(202) 514-0301 (Voice) and 
(202) 514-0381 (TDD). Documents 
are available through an electronic 
bulletin board bv dialing 
(202) 514-6193.' 


That All May Worship 



A variety of resources exist to as- 
sist congregations, seminaries and 
religious organizations in welcoming 
people with physical, sensory and 
mental disabilities. The most compre- 
hensive resource guide available has 
been assembled by the Religion 
Division of the American Association 
on Mental Retardation. (To obtain a 
copy, send a check for $10 to the 
AAMR address below.) Most denomi- 
nations and religious groups have 
disability offices and materials. Please 
call or write the National Organiza- 
tion on Disability (N.O.D.) for those 
names, addresses and telephone 
numbers. N.O.D. can also provide 
information about many disability- 
specific organizations that have both 
national and local chapters. 

Below is a brief list of interfaith 
resources. All are committed to 
making congregations more welcom- 
ing, and all welcome inquiries. 

American Association on 
Mental Retardation 

Religion Division, 31 Alexander 

Street, Princeton, NJ 08540 

* (404) 894-5790 (202) 387-1968 

Council of Jewish Federations 

Committee on Community Planning 
730 Broadway, New York, NY 10003 
(212) 475-5000 

Healing Community 

521 Harrison Avenue, Claremont, CA 
91711, (717)621-6808 

Joni and Friends 

28720 Canwood Street, PO Box 3333 
Agoura Hills, CA 91301 
(818) 707-5664 

National Alliance for the 
Mentally 111 (NAM1) 
Religious Outreach Network, 2101 
Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201 
(703) 524-7600 (800) 950-6264 

National Catholic Office for 
Persons with Disabilities 

PO Box 29113, Washington, DC 
20017, (202) 529-2933 (V/TDD) 

National Christian 
Resource Center 

Bethesda Lutheran Home, 700 
Hoffman Drive, Watertown, Wl 
53094, (800)369-4636 

National Council of Churches 

Division of Education and Ministry 
475 Riverside Drive, Room 706, New 
York, NY 10115, * (717) 859-4636 

National Organization on Disability 

Religion and Disability Program 
910 16th Street NW, Suite 600 
Washington, DC 20006 
(202) 293-5960 
(202) 293-5968 TDD 
(202) 293-7999 FAX 
(800) 248-ABLE (2253) 

Synagogue Council of America 

Task Force on Synagogue Outreach 
to People with Disabilities, 327 
Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 
10016, (212) 686-8670 

*The staff person answering the telephone is not at the mailing address. 


We wish to thank the Scaife Family 
Foundation and the J. M. Foundation 
which funded the writing, photogra- 
phy, publication and distribution of 
this Handbook. Without the vision of 
these foundations, That All May 
Worship would not have been 

Among hundreds of written 
documents, the following publications 
were especially helpful and were used 
with permission: Becoming God's 
Accessible Community (Mennonite 
Central Committee, Akron, 
Pennsylvania, 1990); Called to Care 
(Office for Church Life and 
Leadership, United Church of Christ, 
Cleveland, Ohio, 1991); Creating The 
Caring Congregation by Harold H. 
Wilke (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 
Tennessee, 1980); Helping People 
with Serious Psychiatric Disorders: 
Suggestions for Caring 
Congregations by Diane Engster 
(Silver Spring Presbyterian Church. 
Silver Spring, Maryland, 1990); 
Opening Doors: Ministry With 
Persons With Disabilities (National 

Catholic Office for Persons With 
Disabilities, Washington, DC, 1987); 
Pathways to Partnership: An 
Awareness & Resource Guide on 
Mental Illness by Jennifer Shifrin 
(Pathways to Promise: Interfaith 
Ministries and Prolonged Mental 
Illnesses, St. Louis, Missouri, 1990); 
Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of 
Hearing in Postsecondary 
Education by Ann Davie (HEATH 
Resource Center, American Council 
on Education, Washington, DC, 
1990); and ...Who Makes People 
Different by Carl Astor (United 
Synagogue of America, New York. 
New York, 1985). 

The Architectural Plan lor an 
Accessible Sanctuary was designed b) 
|ohn M. Scott. AIA, and Richard M. 
Takach, ASID, of Largo, Florida. The\ 
arc members of the Interfaith Forum 
on Religion, Art and Architecture 
(IFR-U) of Washington, DC. 

We are grateful for the hospitality 
and staff support of The New York 
Avenue Presbyterian Church. Wash- 
ington, DC. 

That All \la\ Worship 

"find a little child shall lead them. " 

— Isaiah 11:6 


That All May Worship 

"That All May Worship is a fantastic 

The Reverend Robert H. Schuller 

Founder of the "Hour of Power" 

"1 find the advice offered in That All May 
Worship to be extremely useful. Businesses 
as well as congregations will profit from the 
inclusion of people with disabilities." 

John W. Patten 


" ...a remarkably complete resource with 
thoughtful design, eye-catching photographs 
and prose eloquent enough to entice the most 
reluctant reader." 

Gillian Martin Sorensen 


The National Conference of 

Christians and Jews 

"...offers valuable insights and practical 
suggestions for all of us who seek the full 
inclusion of persons with disabilities in the 
life of the Church." 

Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua 

Archbishop of Philadelphia 

" invaluable and helpful guide." 

Congressman Steny H. Hoyer 

U.S. House of Representatives 

"...a valuable guide in training future religious 

The Reverend 
Dr. Carnegie Samuel Calian 

The Pittsburgh Theological Seminary 

"I intend to distribute it widely within the 

Dr. Dennis G. Busse 

Director of Ministry with Persons 

with Disabilities 

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 

"That All May Worship does a stunning job 
of inspiring and enabling congregations to 
purposefully welcome people with all kinds 
of disabling conditions. Every congregation 
can benefit from this important publication. 
So will their communities." 

Nicholas B. van Dyck 

Religion in American Life 

"As a person with a disability, I find That All 
May Worship to be a sound and helpful 

Senator Robert J. Dole 

U.S. Senate 




Jacobus tenBroek 


I hope that every church and syna- 
gogue in America will get, read and 
follow the wise and warm suggestions 
contained in That All May Worship. 

General Secretary 

National Council of the 

Churches of Christ in the USA 

There is immense unawareness 
concerning people with special needs. 
That All May Worship is a wonderful 
resource to raise awareness of the 
needs not only of people with 
disabilities but of their caregivers. 

Archbishop of New York 

I urge the black churches of America 
to reach out to people with all types of 
disabilities and include them in wor- 
ship, social service and educational 
programs. That All May Worship 
spells out how to do this. 

lael Lemmons 

Congress of National Black Churches 

Our American synagogues are 
committed to welcoming persons with 
disabilities. That All May Worship 
will be received by our congregations 
with great appreciation as they 
work toward the fulfillment of our 
religious teaching to include and 
serve all. 

Rabbi Henry D. Michelman 

Executive Vice President 
ynagogue Council of America 

National Organization on Disability 910 16th 

Suite 600 Washington, DC 20006